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Literature / A to Z Mysteries

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A Kid Detective series by Ron Roy about three kids — Josh, Dink and Ruth Rose — who solve mysteries in the town of Green Lawn, Connecticut. Each story has an alliterative title, such as The Canary Caper, The Ninth Nugget, and so on.

After the main series, Ron Roy wrote two shorter Spin-Off series; Super Edition, which follows the kids on more adventures, and Calendar Mysteries, which focuses on their younger siblings and Dink's cousin.

A to Z Mysteries contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: A few. Some of them are:
    • Donald David Duncan
    • Ruth Rose
    • Lucky O'Leary
    • Wallis Wallace
  • Alliterative Title: Every book in the series has an alliterative title. Some of them are:
    • The Bald Bandit
    • The Canary Caper
    • The Orange Outlaw
    • The School Skeleton
    • White House White-Out
  • April Fools' Plot: The School Skeleton.
  • Author Avatar: Wallis Wallace, the famous author of a series of alliterative-titled mystery books. Ron Roy's first name is actually Wallace.
  • Bald of Evil: The title character in The Bald Bandit, who steals from a bank.
  • Big Applesauce: The Orange Outlaw has the three main kids visit Dink's Uncle in New York City.
  • Big Brother Instinct: In The Unwilling Umpire, the titular umpire implicates himself in the theft of the story because he thinks his little brother did it. It turns out this isn't the first time he's done it either.
  • Big Eater: Josh Pinto.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: This being a mystery series, seemingly-friendly characters often turn out to be criminals:
    • The Canary Caper: Fred Little
    • The Deadly Dungeon: Ripley Pearce
    • The Falcon's Feathers: Kurt Striker
    • The Goose's Gold: Spike and Chip
    • The Kidnapped King: Joan Klinker
    • The Missing Mummy: Dr. Tweed
    • The Ninth Nugget: Ed Getz
    • The Panda Puzzle: Flip Frances
    • The Runaway Racehorse: Tinker Bunks
    • The Xed-Out X-Ray: "Dr. Fleming"
    • The Yellow Yacht: Dr. Skor
  • Bland-Name Product: From The Unwilling Umpire, we have an auction site similar to eBay.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Dink, Ruth Rose and Josh respectively.
  • Book Ends: The Runaway Racehorse starts with Josh dripping some ketchup on his shirt from eating french fries and ends with him dripping ketchup on his shirt from eating a hamburger.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Dink in The Deadly Dungeon has a nightmare and then "bolt[s] upright in his bed," and has similar catapult nightmares on other occasions.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Dink learns some French in The Kidnapped King and mispronounces jaune, the French word for yellow, as Joan, the name of the tutor. Using this knowledge, he later finds out that Joan is the kidnapper by connecting the trail of yellow glass pieces to this information which Sammi, the victim, would have known because he was present for Dink's mispronunciation.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In The Jaguar's Jewel, Dink looks at the case holding the titular jaguar while Ruth Rose feeds the fish, and Josh notices a letter opener. The kids solve the crime by finding the jewel in the fish tank and examining security footage to note when the letter opener changed directions.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In The Bald Bandit, Ruth Rose's ability to scream really loudly comes in handy when the Bald Bandit tries to kidnap her.
  • Christmas Episode: Super Edition 3: White House White-Out.
  • Cool Old Lady: Gram Hathaway, Ruth Rose's grandmother, who first appears in The Goose's Gold.
  • Cowboy Episode: The Ninth Nugget takes place on a dude ranch.
  • Counterfeit Cash: The three main kids find a whole stash of this in The Invisible Island.
  • Crossover: Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose meet the kids in the Capital Mysteries in White House White-Out and end up teaming up with them to rescue the kidnapped First Dog before ultimately stumbling into a plot to kidnap Capital Mysteries main character KC, the president's step-daughter.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Ruth Rose, who has a tendency to be extremely loud when freaked out or excited, to Dink and Josh's displeasure, with accompanying artwork seeing them with hands clapped over their ears whenever Ruth Rose starts yelling.
  • The Ditherer: Josh's refusal to make up his mind when it comes to his future job. For example, in White House Whiteout he says that he wants to cook and surf in Hawaii, but in New Year's Dragon Dilemma he says that he wants to become an artist. Somewhat a Justified Trope since he's a pre-teen and thus not expected to have his life together yet.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The Orange Outlaw has the meanings "the outlaw that has orange hair" and "the outlaw who stole oranges". The outlaw is a trained monkey who steals a painting and leaves a big mess of orange peels because of its enormous appetite.
  • Everytown, America: Green Lawn, Connecticut.
  • Exact Words: The Talking T-Rex has this as a minor plot point. Josh overhears Mr. Linkletter asking Jud and Spud how their room is. Room not rooms, meaning it was easy for Spud to borrow the key he needed to commit the crime of the story.
  • Faked Kidnapping: The Absent Author revolves around the kidnapping of the eponymous mystery author. Turns out the whole thing was a hoax in order for the author to investigate how real kids solve mysteries.
  • Food as Bribe: Commonly used with Josh.
  • Food End: The Falcon's Feathers ends with an ice cream party for the heroes. It's not the only example in the series as other books such as The Runaway Racehorse end with the characters discussing the case over food but it's one of the bigger examples.
  • Friend on the Force: Officer Fallon.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: The introduction to the first book says Dink's mom calls him Donald David Duncan when she's upset.
  • The Ghost: The villain of The Unwilling Umpire never appears in person and is arrested off-screen, although the kids read a message he wrote.
  • Happily Adopted: In between The Deadly Dungeon and The White Wolf, Wallis Wallace met an orphaned foster kid named Abbi who uses a wheelchair due to spina bifida. As the two of them got to know each other better, Wallis decides to adopt her because they both wanted to become a permanent part of each others' lives.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • In The Ninth Nugget, Thumbs is implied to have lost his thumb in a bear attack that he walked away from otherwise unscratched, but no details are given.
    • As the kids investigate a case at their school in The School Skeleton, they briefly encounter another group of kids doing the same thing, who have solved some of the same clues they did. It only affects the plot to show that the mystery is one that the whole student body is being encouraged to solve.
  • Hostage Situation: Briefly at the end of The Bald Bandit, when the titular crook tries to use Ruth Rose to facilitate his escape. Her previously established talent for being Cute, but Cacophonic handily defuses it.
  • Ironic Nickname: Lucky O'Leary, so-called because he's so unlucky. It manages to be accurate at the end of The Bald Bandit and zigzags before ultimately being subverted in The Lucky Lottery where the main trio manages to find his winning lottery ticket.
  • My Hair Came Out Green: In The Bald Bandit, Dink dresses as Dracula for Halloween and uses black shoe polish in his hair to complete the look. The combination of the shoe polish with his natural blond hair creates a rust color, prompting a need to go to the local barber where he ends up finding a much-needed clue.
  • Kid Detective: The protagonists, as this is part of the premise.
  • The Meddling Kids Are Useless:
    • The Canary Caper revolves around a series of pet kidnappings ultimately solved by the police. Even when the three main kids discover a pattern in the kidnappings, Officer Fallon says they already made the connection. The kids hide outside the home of the thief's next victim, but the police show up before the kids can even catch the petnapper.
    • The Quicksand Question downplays this a bit. The cops never would have found the jeep with the stolen fundraising money if it wasn't for the kids' investigation, but when they find out where the culprit works for a living and show up to confront him, the police are already there to arrest him because they had already run the jeep's license plate to get the thief's identity.
  • Never the Obvious Suspect: Sometimes the kids suspect the wrong person:
    • The Falcon's Feathers: Josh is highly suspicious of Grace Lockwood, the veterinarian's sullen new assistant.
    • The Jaguar's Jewel: Dink is suspicious of jeweler Regina Wu when she returns to his uncle's empty office, but she was only retrieving her umbrella.
    • The Runaway Racehorse: The kids think Sunny might be complicit in the horse switch.
    • The Talking T-Rex: Dean looks like the only person with opportunity, but he's a deep enough sleeper that the theft was carried out undetected despite his proximity.
    • The Unwilling Umpire: Pete Unkenholz inverts the trope by falsely confessing to cover for his younger brother, as he had done on at least one previous occasion. In this case, he only thinks his brother is guilty.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Ruth Rose wearing more than one color. Played for Drama in The Canary Caper where she's broken up about her beloved cat having gone missing. Subverted and Played for Laughs in The X-ed Out X-Ray when Josh jokes that they should call the authorities because she's wearing a black and white outfit for the Penguin concert they're going to.
  • Punny Name: In The X-ed Out X-Ray, the musical artist Penguin's real name is Penelope Guin.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Averted in The Quicksand Question as a case of Shown Their Work. The kids' investigation into who stole the fundraising money for a bridge so the ducks that live in the river can safely cross the nearby road leads them to a marshy part of the river, where an elderly man says that he saw a jeep with the duck bank storing the change for the ducks, charge off the road nearby. As they're wading in to search for clues, the kids suddenly run into a patch of quicksand that formed in the riverbed recently. Fortunately, Dink remembered to lean back into the water and not struggle in order to not sink in any further, has Josh do the same thing, and Ruth Rose was still on the solid riverbed when she realized that wading in even further would have also gotten her stuck in the quicksand. As a result, she was able to get out of the river and run to the nearby fire department to get help to save her friends. The incident also ends up solving the case because Josh felt a jeep antenna poking at his leg before he was rescued. Once the fire department fishes the jeep out of the quicksand and the police department finds the fundraising money stored inside the jeep and runs its registration, the culprit is found and arrested. Officer Fallon speculates that the reason why the culprit didn't get caught in the quicksand when he ended up driving the jeep into the river during the theft is that he either managed to jump out of the jeep to the solid riverbed when it got stuck or he just swam from the jeep to the riverbank and never touched the bottom.
    Ruth Rose: I never even knew there was quicksand in Connecticut.
    Firefighter Lenny: Quicksand can be anywhere there's water and sand. I was a Navy SEAL, and I saw plenty of the stuff.
    Josh: But we've waded in the river lots of times. We've never gotten stuck before.
    Firefighter Lenny: Sometimes you find it only in small pockets. In fact, right here is the perfect spot for it. Lots of sand under shallow, slow-moving water.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Partial example. When Ron Roy visited the White House during the Christmas season, he watched the hubbub of the festive preparations and remarked that it seemed that the Christmas season would be the perfect time to steal something from the White House since everyone is so busy that it would take a while for anyone to notice. The plot of White House White-Out revolves around a plot to kidnap the First Dog with the real target being the president's stepdaughter
  • Red Herring: Many books involve misleading clues, sometimes deliberately set by the perp and sometimes not:
    • The Kidnapped King: After Sammi is kidnapped, a tassel from his slipper is found by the river and the bait shop owner reports that one of his boats is missing. This all turns out to be misdirection, and Dink's mother becomes suspicious of Joan when she mentions the tassel.
    • The Lucky Lottery: Supermarket clerk Dorothy Calm describes a suspicious man named Joe to the kids, and Josh draws up a sketch of him, but they are later informed that the sketch is of Josh himself, leading them to realize the truth.
    • The Orange Outlaw: Clues suggest the thief climbed up and down the apartment block's balconies, but the kids think that may be a misdirection. Subverted in that the thief did climb the balconies, and the clues were not meant to be taken for misdirection either.
    • The Xed-Out X-Ray: The thief used an alias as part of his plan, leading the kids to look for a nonexistent doctor at the hospital.
    • The Yellow Yacht: A tunnel is found from the side of the aquarium dig site to the bank vault, and in the tunnel is a printout of an email implicating Riko and bank manager Lees Bas. There's also a truck by the wall of the site, consistent with part of the email. While the kids suspect the tunnel to be a decoy, it's actually the email that's misleading.
  • Repetitive Name: Wallis Wallace.
  • Samus Is a Girl: In the first The Absent Author, our detectives try to get reclusive mystery author Wallis Wallace to show up. Wallis doesn't show up, but the gang finds him kidnapped... then realizes Wallis is really tourist Mavis Green, and the kidnapped man is her brother, Walker.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: The Zombie Zone.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Significant Anagram: InThe Haunted Hotel, it's lampshaded that the letters in the names of Corrupt Corporate Executives Eatch, Rail, and Roock can be rearranged to spell cheat, liar, and crook.
  • Stupid Evil: In The Unwilling Umpire, the actual crook eagerly and easily gives up his address to an anonymous buyer interested in his (stolen) baseballs.
  • Surveillance Station Slacker: In The Jaguar's Jewel, Dink's uncle forgets that his office has a security system even when a thief steals the titular jewel from his office. Leaving it up to our three heroes to find the video and decipher the clues.
  • Tears of Fear: KC's reaction to being in the middle of nowhere with no way to get help and being at risk for harm and a hostage situation from the people who kidnapped First Dog Natasha.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: Sammi leaves a trail of kaleidoscope pieces when he's kidnapped in The Kidnapped King. Thankfully Pal can smell them out.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: Grace Lockwood from The Falcon's Feathers looks very much like a falcon in a picture at the end of Chapter 5 where she reads an issue of Falconry Today.
  • Vampire Hickey: Inverted in The Vampire's Vacation. When an actor who typically plays the role of vampires comes to town, several adults in the town decide to play a prank on the main characters. They paint puncture wounds on their necks with makeup, act strange, and call the actor Dr. A. Cula to try and scare the kids into thinking that there is a vampire loose in town.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Many of the crooks are all too happy to threaten the main trio and both The Kidnapped King and White House White-Out feature villains who have no qualms about kidnapping kids the main trio's age.